Street life in Hanoi

Leaving Hanoi after two weeks of walking the streets (mostly the Old Quarter), devouring the mind boggling array of unique street foods and enjoying massages every other day, we are ready to move on.
There is plenty more to be done in Hanoi and in the area surrounding Hanoi. Most specifically the hillside ethnic towns near Sapa, the world renowned Halong Bay with its limestone cliffs jutting out of the sea (we opted for a less touristy option which was Nimh Binh). And multiple small villages with focused industry in ceramics, noodle making and snakes. (For future trips….)
Departing vignettes of street scenes.
Groups of men, playing Ma Jong  on the side walk arre a common sight

Remember the Flintstones? Top knots are the rage among 6 months old little girls

Architecture in Hanoi is rather mixed, to say the least.

There are remnants of a Chinese-influenced past…

As well as mid 19th Century French buildings like the one on the left, juxtaposed with “modern” buildings…

Taxes are paid on the basis of square footage of land, width-wise.  So lots of extremely narrow, multi-story homes

Street vendors are omni-present, so this is a mere “wink” at this thriving commercial ecosystem

Ambulant street vendors carry heavy loads
The “motorized” version of street vendors
Transport through town is most efficient, as was the case in Port au Prince, Haiti, by motorcycle.  Here a “Xe On” driver waiting for his next ride

Motorcycle traffic is a defining characteristic of the capital.


Girls wear jackets which  cover their hands, heads + face masks, to prevent getting any kind of sun.
Let’s count the passengers… can you see 5?
Peta is known to not be the most adroit street crosser. In India she shut her eyes and held onto Ben’s sleeve with blind trust he would get her across the combination of cars, bikes, motorbikes, pedestrians, cows, and tuk tuks.
In Hanoi the threat does not come from the multiplicity of moving modes of transportation, but rather from the unending stream and seemingly impenetrable wall of motorbikes whizzing by and merging from all sides.
Ben soon discovered that the way to deal with crossing the road, is simply to boldy start walking slowly across the different lanes and trust that the motorcycles will organically weave around us, which they did consistently.
It is like being a slowly moving stone thrown into a stream. The water finds it way around the stone, like traffic goes around a cow in India And yes, Peta eventually found her inner stone.

It is normal for travellers to process new surroundings by making comparisons with their home towns.

We find ourselves comparing Hanoi more often to Granada in Nicaragua than to any other city where we have lived. One defning feature of Granada is the arcrobatic balancing of individuals and goods on bicycles. The same applies here, except to motorbikes.
Heat and humidity on a par with Granada. One difference is that Granada almost always has a cool breeze and temperature drop at the end of day. Not so here. Hot 24/7 (this time of year).

4 thoughts on “Street life in Hanoi

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Adam so glad you like the photos. Yes, I love that particular photo as well. Not an uncommon sight!

  1. Gili

    Indeed, when crossing a busy street chock a block full of motorbikes, remember to walk at a uniform pace – it’s dangerous to stop in the middle.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      More like moving across a river ~ winding in and out. Overwhelming at first, but then becomes the norm once you get used to it. Keep moving is key indeed.

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